Well, I guess it’s appropriate that I’m posting a little late this week on the subject of Tom’s and my scarcity of free time. In an earlier post, I stated that one of the hardest things about marriage so far has been not being able to spend as much quality time with Tom as I would like. I have also posted on the subject of the mutual increased desire we have felt to improve ourselves and achieve more. Now that we’re a team when it comes to our finances and lifestyle, we want to make our life together as amazing as it can be!
Herein lies the problem. Tom and I are ambitious people. We even have dreams of retiring in our 40s. In order to make our aspirations a reality, we are spending the prime waking hours of our lives working multiple jobs and studying in the evenings. We spend very little money in order to save for retirement. (But that will be a whole different post). In short, our very desire to create a wonderful life for ourselves in the future is threatening to stunt the quality of our life together in the present. Today I’m focusing on the time aspect of things.
One of my passions is learning foreign languages. In college, I minored in French, and would have majored in it if I could’ve fit a semester abroad into my class schedule. All the same, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a January term in Paris & Marseille for a French theater course. These days, I try to keep up with my French by attending meetings once or twice a month with other French speakers in the area.
Recently, I started taking a weekly Mandarin Chinese lesson online with a friend of a friend in China. Ever since I traveled to Shanghai in 2010, I’ve been wanting to improve my sorry excuse for Chinese.
I also teach a weekly online ESL lesson with a woman in Japan and am in the process of adding new students to my schedule through an online tutoring company that I recently contracted with.
I’m in the midst of doing a Biotechnology master’s degree part-time, but I can already see that I will need to extend my leave of absence one more semester as we work on making the house we’re buying a true home. Even when I’m not taking courses, however, there is never a shortage of scientific journal articles to be read for work.
Did I mention that I try to hang out with my best friend once a week? I’m lucky if I’m able to shoot a few texts to other friends in order to keep the friendship going. My parents also appreciate a visit from their daughter and son-in-law from time to time.
As for Tom, he works over 15 hours a week as a guitar teacher on top of his full-time accounting job. Whenever he gets a spare minute, he is studying for the notoriously difficult CPA certification.
For the last several weeks we’ve been house hunting, followed by making an offer on a house, having various inspections, tests, and estimates done, and negotiating the terms of our contract with the seller. My apologies for the run-on sentence, but I don’t have time to edit it…
So what are we doing to mitigate our quality-time crisis?
For one thing, we’ve been carpooling in the morning and evenings to work. (In my case, Tom drops me off at the public transportation I use to commute the rest of the way to work). This gives us a good 20 minutes to talk, laugh, and hold hands in the car before we part ways in the morning. What an improvement over a mad rush to get ready in the morning followed by a quick kiss goodbye as one of us runs out the door fifteen minutes ahead of the other.
Another thing we’ve been doing ever since we started dating is to have study parties. If we’re going to be studyholics, at least we can do it while sitting next to each other on the couch, holding hands from time to time, and taking little breaks to laugh about various absurdities that life has been throwing us lately.
Even if both of us aren’t studying, browsing social media or watching Netflix while sitting next to my hard-studying hubby makes us feel more connected.
Finally, we make efforts at time management throughout the day. At the lab, I try to get through as much of my work-related reading material as I can, and to make good progress on my writing assignments. That way I don’t feel compelled to bring the work home, and I’m free to at least give Tom a back rub, even if he’s studying. I make good use of my solo commute time as well. (Right now, for instance, I’m writing this on the train.) Tom listens to CPA review CDs in the car, if only to infinitesimally lighten his study load at home.
In short, our efforts at more quality time are still a work in progress, but even small changes to our daily habits help.
What about you and your partner? How do you ensure you get quality time together each day? Tell me in the comments!